So you’ve developed a wee taste for pineapple beer? Before you take the habit with you into Lockdown Level 3, let’s take a closer look at its nutritional status (because that’s kinda important). Here, Association for Dietetics in South Africa (ADSA) spokesperson and registered dietician Retha Harmse puts this popular brew under the microscope…
Pineapple beer: here’s exactly what you’re drinking
A typical recipe includes the following ingredients: pineapple, sugar (buckets of it), water and brewer’s yeast. Because brewing pineapple beer is a highly variable process, there’s no definitively accurate answer as to its nutritional value, but according to Retha’s calculations it will roughly be:
Serving size: 1 cup. Amount per serving:
- Calories: 189
- Kilojoules: 794
- Total fat: 0g
- Saturated fat: 0g
- Trans fat: 0g
- Unsaturated fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
- Sodium 11mg
- Carbohydrates: 49g
- Fibre: 1g
- Sugar: 47g
- Protein: 0g
So, um, we’re talking almost 100% sugar and alcohol. What does this mean for your health… and weight?
“Like any other beverage, the frequency and amounts you consume determine the health ‘rating’. And also what you compare it with,” says Retha. “Pineapple beer isn’t a horrible choice when comparing it to normal beer, but consuming normal water would definitely be a healthier choice.” Clearly.
Alcohol is a non-nutrient* and contains 29 kilojoules per gram — this means that if consumed in excess it will definitely lead to weight gain. [Note: *Non-nutrient means it provides only kilojoules (calories) and no other nutrients like vitamins minerals etc.]
“The other factor to consider is consuming large amounts of beer might be replacing other healthy and nutritious foods, possibly leading to nutrient deficiencies,” explains Retha.
But let’s get back to my spare tyre…
Because… All that sugar!? “[Yes], the amounts required are quite hefty, but both the sugar and alcohol that forms as a result of the fermentation will be to blame for an expanding waistline,” says Retha. Let’s just reiterate: “Alcohol is a non-nutrient and contains 29 kilojoules per gram — indicating that if consuming it in excess, it will definitely lead to weight gain.”
So does the length of fermentation affect the sugar content? Keeping in mind that if you dip into that pineapple-y nectar too early in the process it’s very sugary, but as time goes by fermentation results in a less sweet taste. Does this mean it’s less harmful for your waistline — and teeth! — as it becomes more intoxicating?
“The fermentation process will convert the sugar to alcohol,” says Retha. “The amount of alcohol formed will vary depending on how long you allow the pineapple beer to ferment. Typically speaking, the earlier you drink it the less alcohol there will be.”
So stopping the process too early will mean more sugar, but less alcohol. Buuuuuuuut, neither the sugar nor the alcohol is ‘better’ than the other, explains Retha.
Interesting fact: Pineapples just like that already contain all the ingredients to make a pineapple beer. They are high in sugar, and yeast naturally lives on pineapple skins. Because yeast ‘eats’ sugar to make alcohol, the result can give you alcohol. Adding your own of each ingredient will increase the alcohol content or just speed up the process.
The dose really makes the poison
As always, says Retha, moderation is key. “Enjoying your pineapple beer over a braai with your family, while eating a nutritious salad or oven-roasted veggies, lean protein and a wholewheat braaibroodjie is 100% perfect.”
But be sure to heed this warning…
“It’s very important to ferment in plastic bottles as glass bottles can explode and cause injuries,” says Retha. “Also, plastic bottles do need to be opened regularly to release the carbon dioxide build-up.” So ja, now you know.